The Marmalade District’s only gay bar, Club JAM, will pay tribute to Salt Lake’s leather, fetish and Levis crowd with the revival of the Blue Alley Fair, welcoming San Francisco’s Bearracuda, and presenting an alternative tattoo and spit-shine Sunday event. Seen as Salt Lake’s prelude to San Francisco’s ultimate leather fest, the Folsom Street Fair, the Blue Alley Fair is a tamer version, celebrating leather, kink and fetish accoutrements and self-expression.
On Sept. 18, Bearracuda promoter, Matt Mikesell will bring his successful bear party to Salt Lake City for the first time. “We basically go to our favorite cities that we have a connection in,” said Mikesell. “Our connection in Salt Lake City was my old, old friend, Princess Kennedy. She hooked us up with the great guys at JAM.”
Bearracuda started at a small club in San Francisco as an alternative to other bear hangouts, featuring great music, dancing, and a focus on making friends and connections.
“I’m a 34-year-old guy who has lived in San Francisco off and on for 15 years. I started Bearracuda in 2006, because I thought that bears really deserved more in San Francisco,” explained Mikesell. “All that was offered back then were bars that never changed their décor and didn’t really make much of an effort to draw people in. If you wanted to dance, then the parties were few and far between as well as being pretty expensive.”
Two years ago, the first satellite party was held in Seattle – adding Portland and New Orleans, the following year. This year, 12 cities are included in the tour, including Atlanta, Sydney, Vancouver, and, of course, Salt Lake City.
“We’re a bear event, but we get every type of guy coming to the club … with the majority of them having facial hair,” said Mikesell. “We were voted ‘Best Club for Queer Men’ in San Francisco’s weekly paper in 2008, 2009 and 2010.”
Mikesell creates and promotes the events on his own and has worked with other promoters, deejays and event coordinators to make the Bearracuda event a large and fun party.
Attending to the tunes at Bearracuda SLC is famed circuit party DJ Matt Consola, who is now considered a Bearracuda mainstay. DJ Consola began spinning when he was 15 years old, and for the last 20 years has performed as resident DJ at Metropolis (San Francisco), Crobar (Miami and Chicago) and Pure/Amsterdam (Denver). Consola has also spun at raves and circuit parties for both San Francisco and Los Angeles Pride Festivals, and at both Black and White Parties in Palm Springs. He has also recently opened for The Pet Shop Boys for their sold out Pandemonium World Tour when they played in San Francisco for two nights at the historic Warfield Theater in 2009. Consola also co-owns record label Redzone Records that produces and promotes dance music and dance artists.
“You can expect a very busy night full of beef and fur with fantastic tunes from Mike Babbit and Matt Consola,” said Mikesell. “We’ve had sexy video visuals done for this event and there will be a snack table for our guys at the club. [Consola] is putting a very special set for this evening with many of the songs he’s remixed himself.”
For Saturday night’s Bearracuda at JAM, there will be a $5 cover charge before 10 p.m. and $7 after.
“We’re hoping that people are going to enjoy the friendly atmosphere and the great tunes,” added Mkesell.
On Sunday, beginning at 4 p.m., JAM will present the Blue Alley Fair with vendors as diverse as tattoo artists and leather and costume clothing makers. In years past, the Blue Alley Fair was presented as an alternative, fetish-styled street fair in Salt Lake City, but a promoter has not taken the reigns to organize the event on a continuing yearly basis. Brian Morris of JAM would like the event to continue as a prelude and nod to the West Coast’s larger leather and fetish celebration, the Folsom Street Fair, which attracts over 600,000 visitors to San Francisco during the last weekend of September each year.
JAM will feature drink specials and a BBQ, along with various local and national vendors who will provide attendees with opportunities to explore their kinky side. Attendees can get a military haircut, get their army boots shined, or add to their personal collection of toys.
Club JAM is located at 751 N. 300 West. For more information on Bearracuda visit bearracuda.com, or look for the party on Facebook, where several parties are also scheduled for Folsom Street Festival.